Slow Lane Conditioned, Whiter Shade of Ale & Black As Night

Style
Hazy Pale, Witbier & Belgian Stout
ABV
5.4% & 4.5% & 7.5%

As we reach the deepest recesses of the Australian winter, Slow Lane have eschewed the usual tradition of releasing a bunch of big, fireside-sipping beers for a much livelier trio.

The first is Conditioned, a hazy pale ale that’s been subjected to the relatively rare process of can-conditioning. Allowing refermentation in package in order to condition and carbonate the beer is usually a process reserved for large format bottles of fancy saison and Coopers. It’s a difficult process to master and getting it wrong usually means an explosive recall or a muddy flat beer. With Conditioned, Slow Lane continue to demonstrate their prowess with some of the lesser utilised dark arts of the brewing world to create a bright, quaffable pale.

The hopping combo of Citra and Motueka work well with the yeast esters to create a summer fruit dessert buffet of lemon-lime curd, mandarin, pear and vanilla. The lovely full mouthfeel of wheat malt is soft and mildly sweet offset with a restrained bitterness and clean, dry finish.

Next we have a bit of Belgian yin and yang in the guise of a witbier and Belgian stout. Having recently returned from drinking 10,000 beers in the Scandinavian summer, I absolutely have a new appreciation for the humble wit. I was surprised to find witbier a staple on almost every brewery tap list I came across considering its relative obscurity in Australia. Although it did remind me of the summer of 2011 when Lion released Hahn White and I may have been the only person in the country to have purchased and consumed several cartons of the ill-fated experiment.

Anyway, Whiter Shade of Ale is, as you’d expect, a beautiful example of the style: pouring a classic pale straw and hitting all the right notes of coriander, orange peel and spicy Belgian yeast. On the palate is a strong note of white pepper and citrus that’s super clean, slightly bitter and superbly drinkable.

If sightings of can-conditioned pale ales and witbiers are few and far between in Australia, Belgian stouts are the Lithgow Panther of beer styles. Jet black, mythical and responsible for mauling a pet alpaca to death in 2011, you’d be forgiven for not even being aware of the Belgian stout’s existence. Like most Belgian beers, what sets a Belgian stout apart from the rest is the yeast. Unlike English or American yeasts, which are either subtle or barely noticeable at all in a stout, Belgian yeasts muscle their way to the forefront with telltale spicy phenols and fruity esters.

Black As Night is precisely as advertised: a deep, dark black with a gorgeous, fluffy, dark tan head out of which rises allspice, light roast coffee beans, and a bag of mixed dried fruits. The combination of caramel and dark malts creates a riot of dark chocolate cake with a caramel ribbon and roasty espresso. Here is a beer with the dark complexity of a 12 percent ABV RIS jammed into the body of a 7.5 percenter. If you find yourself a better stout this winter, you’ll be doing very well indeed!

Judd Owen

Published July 20, 2023

Name
Slow Lane Brewing
Address

30 Byrnes Street
Botany
NSW 2019

Phone
(02) 9121 6279
Open Hours

Friday: 5pm to 9pm
Saturday: midday to 9pm
Sunday: midday to 7pm

Lallemand May 2024 B
Fresh Harvest Frenchies 2024

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